Britain will increase annual military spending to £87 billion by 2030, meeting its 2.5% GDP spending ‘aspiration’ for weapons and war. 

Rishi Sunak made the announcement during a trip to Warsaw on Tuesday, where he met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenburg to discuss European security. Britain currently spends 2.32% on its military and the government’s intention to increase this to 2.5% was when “economic circumstances allowed.” Now, Downing Street said the new spend has been fully funded and The Guardian reports that will result in “a cumulative extra £75bn on core defence funding over the next six years.”

Also announced was Britain’s largest ever military package for Ukraine to date: including £500 million in funding from Treasury reserves for Kyiv to buy ammunition, air defence and British-made drones; and an uncosted delivery of weapons from existing MoD budgets including 60 boats, 400 vehicles, ammunition, and strike and air defence missiles. 

Britain currently has 400 military personnel stationed in Poland, and Sunak is expected to offer deploy a squadron of RAF Typhoons to the country as part of a NATO air mission. His visit also comes after recent comments by Polish President Andrzej Duda, which raised the possibility that Poland would be willing to accept NATO nuclear weapons on its soil, following the decision by Russia to station its nuclear weapons in Belarus. Prime Minister Tusk, who took power in December, gave a more muted response to the suggestion and said such a deployment would need to be discussed with the president. 

All this comes a day after the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute revealed that global military spending reached record highs in 2023, jumping by 6.8% to £1970 billion. It’s the ninth straight increase in a row and the first time that military spending had increased in all five geographical regions. 

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: 

“With global military spending at record highs, global conflicts increasing, and nuclear weapons states modernising and increasing their arsenals, it’s safe to say that a new arms race is well and truly on. Unfortunately, Britain is among those that are committed to wasting billions of pounds on weapons and war while the people’s living standards and public services continue to deteriorate. Both Conservatives and Labour have committed to this madness after the next general election and we call on all those appalled by this to raise it on the doorstep when canvassers come looking for your vote. Increased military spending won’t make us any safer – it generates billions of pounds for arms companies and fuels more war and more killing. We demand that our money is spent instead on better services, climate protection, and promoting peace.”

Photo credit: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street / Flickr